Timing matters. You cannot observe Shabbat on Wednesday, Pesach in the winter, or Yom Kippur in the spring. In life, generally we understand that there are tasks that are time sensitive, and we attend to them as such.
In this week’s Parsha, Emor, we read of two Mitzvot/commandments that are time sensitive, with beautiful messages embedded within them.
וְשׁ֖וֹר אוֹ־שֶׂ֑ה אֹת֣וֹ וְאֶת־בְּנ֔וֹ לֹ֥א תִשְׁחֲט֖וּ בְּי֥וֹם אֶחָֽד׃
No animal from the herd or from the flock shall be killed and brought to the Temple on the same day with its young.
וְכִֽי־תִזְבְּח֥וּ זֶֽבַח־תּוֹדָ֖ה לַיהֹוָ֑ה לִֽרְצֹנְכֶ֖ם תִּזְבָּֽחוּ׃ בַּיּ֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ יֵאָכֵ֔ל לֹֽא־תוֹתִ֥ירוּ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֑קֶר אֲנִ֖י יְוָֽה׃
When you sacrifice a Thanksgiving Offering to G-d, sacrifice it so that it may be acceptable in your favor. It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall not leave any of it until morning: I am G-d.
Mitzvah #1 maintains that a parent and child animal may not be offered on the altar on the same day. Why not? What difference does it make if the mother and child sheep are offered on the same day, or 24 hours apart?
The commentaries explain the reason is to ingrain within us the attribute of mercy. It would be without compassion and merciless to kill both at once, the Torah wants us to be a merciful and compassionate people.
Mitzvah #2 advances that when a Thanksgiving offering is brought in the Temple it must be consumed the very same day. Why? Why not save some for later in the week, or to share with the family back home.
Here, the Torah is teaching alacrity and gratitude. If one is bringing an offering to G-d in celebration and thanksgiving to G-d for the good bestowed upon him, it should be eaten right away to demonstrate its importance.
Compassion and gratitude are two vital ingredients that comprise a Torah personality. The purpose of Mitzvoth is to refine our personalities and guide us throughout our lives. While performing a Mitzvah may be fulfilling an obligation to G-d, it also is an opportunity for us to grow and improve as people. How fortunate we are to have a Torah filled with Mitzvot!
Community Scholar in Residence